Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Top 10 Things I’m Secretly Freaking Out About

Guess what, kids – May is Mental Health Awareness Month! I haven’t blogged much about mental health-related issues here, because I don’t much like blogging about personal stuff, just like I don’t much like talking about myself at all. But if I’m going to succeed as a memoirist or a person, I’m going to need to get used to other people knowing stuff about me.

At eighteen, I was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. I’m doing pretty well these days at not spending all day checking to make sure the stove is turned off or that I still have my wallet. I’m also told I’m very adept at keeping my anxiety hidden away inside, where it is less likely to leap out and stagger through my life, leaving a wake of destruction like a drunk guy carrying a really long pole. Here are some of the things you didn’t know I was worrying about.

10) Answering Emails

When I discuss my anxiety around writing emails, I mean writing emails in a professional capacity. I don’t write emails in a personal capacity anymore; that’s so 2007. I’m usually okay writing a short email, but once I get past two or three sentences the fog of anxiety descends. I’m not sure what I think is going to go wrong. The laptop isn’t going to explode, and it’s not like I don’t know how to write an email. I just have to suck it up, hit send, and then breathe carefully for a few minutes. It’s just as well I work from home.

9) Making Left Turns

Left turns are more dangerous than right turns, and I also totally got hit once while making a left turn, so it's totally not even that irrational that every time I make one intrusive thoughts force an unbidden image of my car and body being mangled by an oncoming pickup truck.

This pickup truck, to be specific.
Image by That Harford Guy from Flickr.

I can almost hear the metal screeching with the force of impact. But I have to keep driving because what’s the alternative? Not driving is not an option. I live in West Virginia, FFS.

8) Catching the Brain-Eating Amoeba

I saw my doctor for my yearly checkup two days ago and I just now realized I forgot to ask him if I can catch the brain-eating amoeba from a public swimming pool. The pool I go to is so heavily chlorinated it might as well be filled with nothing but bleach, but I still worry about catching the brain-eating amoeba from it. Swimming in natural bodies of water would be right out of the question, but it’s a moot point because I don’t know where any of the swimming holes are here and I’m not going to ask anyone, because BRAIN-EATING AMOEBAS. To make matters worse I recently found out (okay, read on someone's Facebook page) that you can catch the brain-eating amoeba from bathwater, but I have to take baths because I have a bad back and oh gawd I’m totes gonna die.

The face of death.

7) Meeting Anyone, Anywhere, at Any Time, for Any Purpose

I’m always late. If you’ve borne the brunt of my chronic lateness, you probably thought that I was just disorganized or lose track of time easily or maybe that I don’t respect you. It’s not that I don’t respect you, it’s that I hate sitting around in public places waiting for people to show up. Maybe they won’t show up. Maybe they’re having a laugh, maybe they forgot – both of these things have happened to me before. The other day I met a friend for dinner and for once in my life, I showed up early and sat there fiddling with my smart phone like a nervous tool for the whole five minutes I waited, which were the longest five minutes of the year. On the bright side, I had time to outline this blog post.

6) Calls from Unknown Numbers

Sometimes I’ll get a call that says “number withheld” or “unknown number” and in those moments I realize that a secret government agency is on my trail. I don’t care if the Heavens open and Jesus Christ himself descends on the back of a solid-gold unicorn to command me to answer the phone in the name of Himself, I’m not going to do it. Other times my phone will show the number but I’ll still be leery of answering it, because sometimes it’s a wrong number, but other times it’s one of my hostile relatives calling to tell me that they still think I’m worthless piece of shit, just in case I forgot for a second and was walking around accidentally feeling like a worthwhile person. Even when it is a wrong number, you’d be surprised at how often people will argue with you about it:


“Hi! Is Selena there?”

“Sorry, you have the wrong number.”

“No I don’t! Where’s Selena?”

“Um, did you dial [lol not putting my number on the Internet]?”

“Yes, where’s Selena?” they’ll say, or alternatively, “No! Where’s Selena?” You don’t really need to call people’s numbers; you can just enter any combination of ten random numbers into the phone. It’s the intention that counts. Just like in yoga.

5) This Mole in My Armpit

I can’t see the mole in my armpit, so I can’t tell if it’s turning into cancer. Several years ago, while shaving, I accidentally lopped off the armpit mole. I was visiting a friend at the time and when I came out of the shower and told her, “I just lopped off my armpit mole,” she responded, “Oh, don’t do that, that makes them turn into cancer!” Great.

4) This Mole in the Back of My Shoulder

This list would include a lot more moles, but luckily for both of us, I only have the two. My mother once had to have a mole removed from roughly the same spot (okay, four inches to the right), but while her mole looked like it might have bitten you if you got too close to it, my mole looks like a normal mole. My doctor seems to find my mole-anxiety pretty amusing.

3) Dystopian Fiction

I’ll read dystopian fiction if it’s something a friend wrote or if it’s too big a part of the cultural zeitgeist to skip or if multiple people have assured me that it’s really, really good. But it’s something I have to cope with. I know normal people don’t have to cope with reading books, but dystopian fiction is just too realistic.

2) Slasher Flicks

It’s not that I walk around all the time worrying about getting murdered, it’s that I don’t wanna start. Unlike dystopian fiction, I avoid these altogether. There’s too realistic, and then there’s way too realistic. Slasher flicks fall into the second category.

Incidentally, this is why I like zombies so much. Getting stalked by a murderer and chopped into pieces is something that could definitely happen IRL, but even my crazy ass knows there’s never gonna be a zombie apocalypse.

1) Climate Change           

Let’s not even talk about it.